What is happening to our councils?
In Tauranga, the mayor resigned after the council voted to bring in a Crown manager due to ongoing conflict and dysfunction among elected members.
In Rotorua, some councillors are boycotting Long-term Plan workshops after conflict between elected members.
Further afield in Invercargill, an independent governance review found mayor Tim Shadbolt was struggling to carry out significant aspects of his role – something he refutes.
And Wellington City Council will progress with an investigation into Mayor Andy Foster after a councillor lodged a formal complaint about his alleged behaviour in connection to the sale and lease of council-owned land. The councillor declined to comment. Foster says the investigation is "standard process" but declined to comment further.
Elected council members are adults elected by constituents to represent them. But based on the above examples of problems and disharmony, in my opinion, some aren't acting like it.
This year, I believe it's more important than ever for councils to present a united front. To get things done for the good of the people.
The year has brought uncertainty due to Covid-19, businesses have closed or are struggling and many residents and business owners aren't going to be happy about rates rises if they are put on the cards.
It is why councils should be in chambers working out how best to economically recover while ensuring people's livelihoods remain intact.
Recovering from Covid-19 should be at the forefront of every council's efforts. As elected members, they have a duty to bring the city out the other side stronger than it was before.
That means getting along in chambers, respecting the elected mayor and having constructive conversations at Long-term Plan workshops.
It means agreeing to disagree if that's what's needed, and working together to find the best outcome despite those disagreements.
Elected members don't need to agree on everything, but they should respect each other because, as we have seen, problems can cost money.
In Tauranga, a byelection for the mayor, and for a councillor who resigned, is expected to cost between $230,000 and $240,000.
A Code of Conduct investigation into Rotorua district councillor Reynold Macpherson cost ratepayers $59,573 in August.
In my view, this is money that would be better spent on infrastructure and amenities.
When council tensions and problems like the ones outlined in this editorial cost money and affect the ability to get things done, things need to change.
There are already calls within the council sector for a review. Kāpiti Coast District councillor Gwynn Compton has written to ministers and MPs urging them to establish a Royal Commission on local government.
He believes the sector is reaching "crisis point" and needs to be overhauled so it is fit for purpose.
I agree. Democracy will always be important but I believe it is timely to review the structure of our council and local government systems.